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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Dray-Fish  
  Large fish trained to be harnessed to large houseboats.  

The citizens of Sirene appear to have little need for advanced electronics; most of their needs are met by the remarkable fecundity of the Titanic littoral. In this case, motive power for their houseboats is provided by large marine animals.

He bent over the rails, peered down into the underwater pens where Toby and Rex, the slaves, were harnessing the dray-fish for the weekly trip to Fan, eight miles north. The youngest fish, either playful or captious, ducked and plunged...

The fish were finally harnessed... The dray-fish strained, the harness tautened, the houseboat moved north.

From The Moon Moth, by Jack Vance.
Published by Pocket Books in 1976
Additional resources -

So, could fish provide motive power for a boat?

In 1936, Sir James Gray promulgated the following paradox: dolphins are observed to swim very fast, but if you calculate the available musculature, there is no where near enough power. Yet they do swim fast. Hence the paradox.

In 1960, it was hypothesized that the compliance (it has "give" to it due to the blubber that underlies it) of dolphin skin would delay water flowing over the skin, preventing turbulence. This would greatly reduce the factor of drag, and remove the paradox. More recently, however, it was shown that while dolphin skin reduces drag, it is also true that dolphin musculature provides significantly more power than a human being's - which is what Gray's calculations were based on. So there is no paradox, and yes, there could be dray-fish!

Take a look at the float-home, from Whipping Star, by Frank Herbert, for another way for a marine animal to power a boat.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Moon Moth
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Moon Moth
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

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